Suicide and Mood Disorders
(Depression and Bipolar Disorder)
- Over 90% of the people who die from suicide suffer from a mental illness, most commonly a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder.
- Mood Disorders are common
- 15% of people suffer from Major Depression sometime during their life.
- 3% of people suffer from Bipolar Disorder.
- People with a mood disorder are at greater risk for suicide
- 15% of people with Major Depression die from suicide.
- 20% of people with Bipolar Disorder die from suicide.
- over 30% of people with Bipolar Disorder attempt suicide.
- Depression and Bipolar Disorder are both very treatable illnesses. If we can recognize and treat these illnesses, we can save lives!
- Sad Most of the Time
- Feeling Hopeless, Helpless, Worthless
- Feeling Irritable, Angry, Restless, Inappropriately Guilty
- Changes in Appetite, Weight, Sleep Patterns, Self Care, Sex Drive, Fatigue,
and Loss of Energy
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Decreased Interest in Activities
- Change in Work or School Performance
- Physical Complaints
- Alcohol or Drug Use
- Severe Mood Swings
- Talking or Writing About Suicide, Death
- Giving Away Possessions
- Careless, High Risk Behavior
- Making a Suicide Plan
- Gathering Supplies to Kill Self
- Unexplained Mood Improvement
PLEASE NOTE: One or two of these signs may be present in many people. Look for a pattern of changes in one’s behavior.
Additional Risk Factors
- Recent Losses or Major Life Changes
- Access to Means
- Absence of Support
- Past Suicide Attempts
- Family History of Suicide
- Struggles with Sexual Identity
Severe Depression can occur as a symptom of both Bipolar Disorder and Major Depression (a.k.a. Clinical Depression). Major Depression is not the same as ordinary sadness or grief. Major depression is actually caused by an imbalance of the chemicals in our brain which affect how we feel, think and respond to the world around us. Unlike ordinary sadness or grief, major depression does not usually respond to changing circumstances or just “go away” over time. Many symptoms of depression are often unrecognized, overlooked, misunderstood, or not taken seriously. Depression can affect a person’s entire body. The good news is that depression is treatable. The vast majority of people suffering from depression will find relief through a combination of treatments, including anti-depressant medication, psychotherapy, holistic approaches, lifestyle changes, and peer support.
- Allow the person to express feelings.
- Take suicide threats seriously.
- Be non-judgmental.
- Say things such as:
- “I’m here for you.”
- “Let’s talk.”
- “I care about what happens to you.”
- “It’s not unusual to feel this way.”
- Let him or her know depression is treatable.
- Show interest and support.
- “Are you having suicidal thoughts?”
- “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy.
- Say things such as “You are too important to me. I can’t keep this a secret.”
- Don’t worry about being disloyal to the individual.
- Get professional help for the person (here).
- If the person is in crisis, don’t leave him or her alone.
- If possible, remove potential weapons, drugs and alcohol. DO NOT put yourself in danger.
- Tell the person that alternatives are available, but do not offer empty words of reassurance (“You’ll feel better in the morning”, etc.)
- Don’t leave it up to them to get help by themselves. See that appointments for professional evaluation and treatment are made.
- You can say things such as:
- “Let’s go talk to someone who can help.”
- “Go see someone for me; I don’t want to worry; I can’t leave here until I know you are safe.”
Remember that you can not:
- Help this person all by yourself- get support
- Act for the person
- Control how the person feels
- Make the person kill him/herself
- Stop the suicide if the person is determined and has the means